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Yogawoman directed by Kate Clere and Saraswati Clere
Many of you will have attended a yoga class in the last few years, or at the very least, considered it. For many women, yoga has become the form of exercise that they love and encourage others to try. The film Yogawoman explores the rise and rise of yoga in the west and the huge following it has gathered among women. Directed by Kate Clere, New Zealand born, Sydney based film maker, the film explores the many ways women have used yoga to meet the contemporary needs and issues facing women today.
Traditionally women in India were not allowed to practise yoga. However, during the 20th Century a number of women pushed through these boundaries and began to teach yoga to women. During the hippy movement of the late 60s and into the 1970s in America, yoga became more mainstream and the movement has never really looked back. The film breaks the various stages of life and particular challenges women face, into chapters. Narrated by Academy Award nominee Annette Benning, the film includes interviews with women only, including many teachers who have been influential in changing the face of yoga. Though much of it is set in the United States, women are interviewed from Kenya, Japan and Australia.
One woman discusses the profound impact yoga has had through her battle with breast cancer and she is now holding classes for cancer survivors. Yoga celeb and activist Sean Corn has founded an organisation Off the Mat, to empower women who practise yoga, to become involved in development projects in the developing world. Interviews with scientists and doctors espouse the many benefits yoga can offer to women physically, but also to their mental health and general well being. One of the most inspiring stories in the film is the way a yoga programme is changing the lives of young woman who are in a youth detention centre in the U.S.
Yogowoman is unusual in that Kate and her team did not wait to find funding for the film. Instead they decided to use social media and other contacts and just get on with producing it. This is becoming a more common method of getting a great idea off the shelf and into the cinemas. The Q and A session following the screening also revealed the high personal cost Kate faced as she travelled the world to collect women's voices and stories.
Due to the huge turn out to the one-off screening, a season is planned for the Academy Cinema so head to the website and follow the film on facebook so you can make the most of an inspiring and uplifting film which celebrates the courage and compassion women have for each other and the way a movement can make positive changes in women's lives across the world.
You might even find yourself dusting off that yoga mat and trying out downward facing dog for the first time in a while.
By Marion Woodley 14 April 2012